The 2023 SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum took place on 4th of October 2023, at Eugenides Foundation, Athens, focusing on key safety issues and trends concerning the human factor, as new technology emerges and impacts seafarers’ life and work onboard ships.
xperts agreed that psychological safety is a key area to focus on and discussed the challenges for crew members, highlighting the importance of training and continuous development of their skills.
The event was organized by SAFETY4SEA having as lead sponsors the following organizations: MacGregor and SQE MARINE.
Other sponsors were: The American P&I Club, ARCADIA SHIPMANAGEMENT CO. LTD, Blue Planet Shipping Ltd, Capital-Executive Ship Management Corp., Capital Gas Ship Management Corp., Capital Shipmanagement, Columbia Ship Management, Diaplous, DNV, Dorian LPG, Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Limited (EASTMED), EURONAV, Green Jakobsen, I.M.A. Assessment & Training Center Inc., Inmarsat, International Registries, Inc., Latsco Marine Management Inc., NAVARINO, NAVTOR, NorthStandard, OSM Thome, RISK4SEA, SEAFiT, Steamship Mutual, UK Club, V.Group and Wartsila.
The event was supported by: Chios Marine Club, International Windship Association (IWSA) and The Nautical Institute.
Opening the event, Apo Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, welcomed all delegates and speakers, giving an overview of the agenda and setting the tone for the conversations that were to follow. Belokas highlighted that the maritime industry tends to take a reactive rather than proactive stance. One of the main reasons behind this phenomenon is the secrecy on higher levels, which often hurdles the process of learning about incidents onboard that could be evaluated and used for future reference.
Panel 1 – Navigating safe seas: Exploring today’s landscape
Apo Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, presented key findings from the recent SEAFiT survey, which is the largest survey on crew welfare conducted worldwide, with the participation of 1.6K ships and 19K seafarers. The survey revealed many mental health barriers, and that physical wellbeing is the most ignored among other aspects. Apo Belokas also highlighted that the internet plays a vital role for life onboard. Seafarers need high quality internet to stay connected and communicate with their family and friends ashore, a need expressed by an astounding 91% of participants. Also, the survey put on the table many important issues that industry has not considered as priority for their wellness, such as wages and connectivity with the shore and highlighted that industry remains reactive and not proactive.
Erik Green, Managing Director and Partner, Green-Jakobsen, pointed out that human performance is context dependent. Erik Green went on to explain that performance is influenced by many factors, but some are more important than others. When trying to enhance performance, the industry often focuses on the individual. Alas, according to the presentation, developing human and safety performance requires that we focus on collective intelligence which is strengthened when people experience psychological safety. Referring to Green-Jakobsen’s own data, Erik Green presented the most important human performance influencing factors such as social reflectivity and argued why we need to make performance reviews on a continuous basis and how we see the relation between task reflectivity and social reflectivity.
Capt. Adam Parnell, Director Maritime, CHIRP, focused on the crucial contribution that anonymous reporting has made to presenting incidents that otherwise wouldn’t be known. Good safety management means that everyone learns from an incident. That is why the CHIRP reporting scheme collects data from incidents for analysis and reports current trends. Adam Parnell also said that safety does not happen on its own, but when people care about it. He concluded his presentation by also highlighting the importance of psychological safety.
Nicholas Ioannidis, Director, International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), talked about the medical guides that the association, in collaboration with medical health experts and other industry associations, has produced with the aim to provide guidance on which medical supplies are needed. He highlighted that dental problems are increasing and thus, dental health must be carefully considered for the crew onboard. Nicholas Ioannidis also mentioned IHMA’s contribution to the publication of medical guides for people on board and said that ship managers need to provide support and related guidance.
Dimitris Patrikios, Business Advisor, V. Ships Greece Ltd., stressed the importance of psychological safety. He explained that it is a new concept , introduced few years ago, that supports a new culture in which individuals feel free to express their opinions and share their problems. In that way, any organization as a whole can learn from experience and move forward. Human error is in our nature; our focus should be to learn from the mistakes and not to adopt blame culture. When people are not afraid to speak up, they are happy and a happy crew is a safe crew, he concluded.
Panel #2 Sailing into the future: Digitalization’s role in shipping safety
John Southam, Loss Prevention Executive, NorthStandard, presented lessons learned from ECDIS implementation and talked about the upcoming changes to ECDIS, in particular S100. In 2020, the IMO introduced with the S100, a transition of data standards and many changes are going to be implemented in the upcoming years. In that regard, it is important to focus on lessons learned from serious ECDIS- related incidents and how to avoid any issues in the future. Training can help towards to ensure that ship bridge team is aware of the requirements for appraisal, planning, execution, and monitoring.
Jacob Clausen, Performance Director / MD Denmark, Navtor, briefly presented his company’s journey to digitalization to provide solutions for safe navigation, highlighting that weather and environmental conditions, navigation hazards, piracy, cyber security and human error are among the key challenges. For sustainable operations, ships need many data and simple and comprehensive information with regards to passage planning and monitoring, route planning, weather routeing etc.
Capt. George Mavrogenis, Marine Manager, Latsco Marine Management Inc., noted that although the increase in technology, the principles of safe navigation remain the same and the human factor a top priority. Main principles of safe navigation include planning, managing, and directing the vessel’s voyage. George Mavrogenis believes that as the maritime industry is a people-driven industry, smart and innovative solutions should be implemented to minimize errors due to the human factor. Additionally, he pointed out that as technological tools change, so does the situational awareness of the crew.
Panel #3 Industry’s best practices: Learning from innovative approaches
Capt. Theodore Lalas, Fleet Ops Manager, The Marshall Islands Registry, presented an overview of Port State Control data and detentions per MoU and vessel type. Theodore Lalas supports the idea that viewing these data is important in order to improve faults, not to compare with other organizations. He mentioned that bulk carriers had the most deficiencies in 2022, followed by tankers, with fire safety, ISM and LSA being the most common deficiency areas. He also mentioned the IMO resolution on PSC procedures, highlighting that we need to be transparent with the PSCOs and seek assistance and guidance from the Flag Administration. Finally, Lalas supported that a significant amount of the detentions could be avoided if planning was done in advance and repairs where not postponed.
Nikos Georgopoulos, Chief Business Development Officer, Diaplous Group & General Manager, Diaplous Land Services, stated that the security risk landscape has changed significantly, and the key to face all challenges is information. He cleared out that the risks are many and variable, not just limited to piracy. However, according to Nikos Georgopoulos, real-time and responsive information can greatly mitigate the risk and provide solutions on all levels of the company on how to deal with an incident as well as prevent it.
Evangelos Tzitzis, Manager of Unmanned Systems, Diaplous Group, discussed the challenges of using drones for ship-to-shore delivery, highlighting that drone delivery service providers should comply with multiple requirements. Drone delivery may be very important to the crew during extended anchorage, but it has some pain points such as technological limits regarding adverse weather conditions and limited weight of delivery and being able to deliver only during the day.
Katerina Liaki, Business Development Manager, Navarino, explained how medical issues are a common problem onboard, as medical care cannot easily be accessed or provided. To tackle this issue, NAVARINO has partnered up with VIKAND to provide medical help solutions through an application and calls with professionals. They also provide aid in keeping a medical chest onboard and regular guidance on various health issues, including mental health.
Thanassis Pagonis, Co-Founder & CEO, Forecode S.A., presented the importance of a HSQE software that is human centric and agile and can help keep personnel up-to-date with all regulations. The only constant is change, Thanassis Pagonis said, highlighting that in today’s dynamic and digital environment, stakeholders need to interact with multiple services and software to receive all information. An API-ready software can help towards, providing a secure and structured way to co-exist with various data sources.
Dimitris Psarros, Business Development Manager, RISK4SEA, presented the audience with some interesting insights from a PSC Automation case study, highlighting that the use of automation can improve PSC Performance KPIs, streamline operations and minimize OPEX. As he explained, behind any detention, there are three key reasons: Lack of awareness of a PSC Inspection Probability; Lack of awareness of the local PSC Focus items; Inadequate communication of priorities to the ship.
Panel #4 Steering a safer course: Crew Management and Safety Culture
Mariangela Zanaki, Organisational Development Consultant – Psychologist, Ceosan, discussed crew management strategies, viewed through the lens of neuroscience. She outlined the connection between the central nervous system, brain functions, and their impact on safety behaviours and performance. She also offered insights on how to manage people in a more “brain-friendly” manner, thus fostering a safety mindset and enhancing crew interactions, morale, and overall operational efficiency.
Ross Millar, Loss Prevention Associate, Steamship Insurance Management Services Limited, referred to the recent developments in technology that impact shipping industry, i.e. AI, MAS, AR, and questioned their impact on seafarers situational awareness. This new technology will be utilized with officers and other crew members to enhance efficiency, this is why they should be designed with the human factor in mind. Ross Millar stated that balance needs to be found between technology and team decisions by combining the raw materials with communication between individuals.
Dr. Michela Terrei, Psychologist, I.M.A. ASSESSMENT AND TRAINING CENTER, INC., pinpointed that in the era of Shipping 4.0, where technology and human expertise converge, situational awareness emerges as a critical factor in ensuring the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of maritime operations. As seafarers navigate the seas of complexity, a holistic approach that acknowledges the interplay between human factors, technological advancements, and psychological resilience is essential. By addressing the challenges of information overload, complacency, and decision-making under uncertainty, the maritime industry can empower seafarers to harness the potential of Shipping 4.0 while upholding the core principles of situational awareness.
Capt. Konstantinos Karavasilis, Regional Director, Loss Prevention, UK P&I Club, started his presentation with data from crew injury incidents during the last year that revealed lack of situational awareness and lack of power distance. This is a concept that help us understand how people perceive the role of authority in different situations. Power distance affects communication, decision making and leadership styles. He explained how power distance is being perceived by different nations and explained what this means for their overall behaviour and attitude onboard ships.
Panel #5: Building resilient crew: Essential skills training and development for onboard success
Tomi Urho, Director Training Services, Wärtsilä, referred to ways that ensure enhanced safety, highlighting the importance of information sharing across an organization and of training. Especially, training is key in implementing decarbonization efforts safely; thus, the focus should be on monitoring successfully the several rules and regulations and systems onboard, the robust and safe operation on vessels as well as personal safety and key actions to take in case of an emergency.
Capt. Spyros Kyriakopoulos, Training Manager, Prime Tanker Management Inc., explained why people behave in a certain way when a system is being influenced for any reason. We must understand what the organisational influences are, and why people make the decisions they do, he said, noting that people make decisions that are locally rational. They don’t go to work to hurt themselves, or other people. They don’t go to work to ruin their supervisor’s day or damage equipment. If we are empathetic and curious, we shall understand why they did what they did because it made sense at the time, he stressed.
Aggeliki Saranti, Learning and Development Officer, Euronav, stated that the industry needs to focus on what is best for the crew. She once pointed out the crucial role of psychological safety onboard and developing a life-long learning environment that is not limited to technicalities but also expands to developing a culture that fosters opportunities to develop and understand that a failure can also be a lesson.
Panel #6: Industry voices: Ship managers discuss key priorities in industry’s safety agenda
Dionysios Peppas, Director, Pantheon Tankers Management Ltd, focused on various thinking and perception patterns that influence decision making and life onboard. For instance, one scope of his presentation on fast and slow thinking, as presented by Daniel Kahneman in his bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow. He also analysed another concept presented in the book, WYSIATI. WYSIATI is an acronym for ’What you see is all there is’, practically, a cognitive bias. Dionysios Peppas also presented ways in which thinking patterns can be used to improve safety conditions.
Capt. Nikolaos Chrysomallis, Compliance Manager, Tsakos Shipping and Trading S.A., mentioned that human factors can affect but also intervene and stop the sequence between a hazard and an incident. The basic principles to keep in mind are: People will make mistakes; People’s actions are rarely malicious and usually make sense to them at the time; Mistakes are typically due to conditions and systems that make work difficult; Understanding the conditions in which mistakes happen helps us prevent or correct them; People know the most about their work and are key to any solution.
Capt. Andreas Togantzis, Alpha Bulkers Shipmanagement, highlighted once again that research during the last 50 years, has shown that human error is the cause of 80% of accidents. Ever since, most of the published studies on maritime accidents have found that maritime accidents are caused mainly by human errors. In the shipping industry, despite the changes, the digitalization, the modern integrated safety management models, the crews training, we have not manage to reduce the accidents. In contrary, we see same accidents to be repeated. This element shows that we do something wrong and that we are not on the right track to reverse the situation, he stressed.